Whole Food: The Mighty Mushroom

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I didn’t always love this delicious whole food: the mighty mushroom, but they are one of my favorite foods. When I met my husband a million years ago I didn’t care for mushrooms at all actually. But when he persuaded me to give them a chance when we ordered a pizza one night, I realized what I was missing, no only in taste, but in nutrition. Most people don’t think of fungi as one of the healthiest produce items in the grocery store, but they should. There has been research which found that mushrooms help improve the immune system, in addition to being packed with antioxidants, vitamin B and minerals.

When shopping, leave those white button mushrooms on the shelf and try to venture onto the darker, more exotic types like shiitakes, oysters and cremini; which are among the most flavorful and best for your health.  Mixing a variety of mushrooms together creates an even greater health result and an appetizing dish. Incorporating the mushroom within a meal can help you stay well, while using a number of different fungi mixed together will get you to an even a better state of wellness.

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Do you want to know the proper way to cook a mushroom? That could be one reason why you don’t like the taste of them, they way they are prepared is key to their flavor.  First, don’t ever wash a mushroom with water, they are like sponges and will soak up the liquid, be heavy and water-logged.  Just use a clean dish towel or paper towel and carefully wipe any dirt that may be attached to your baby bellas. Don’t worry too much about the cleaning of mushrooms, they are cultivated and very safe to eat.  Remove the stem and chop up the mushrooms into thin slices.

One big mistake people make is to add mushrooms to a sauce or rice dish without sauteing first which again, only makes them chewy and tough.  Start up a saute’ pan on the stove top with a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil at medium to high heat.  Once warmed, add your mushrooms and leave them alone so that they will brown.  DO NOT season the mushrooms until they are cooked because adding salt to an uncooked shroom will drain all of the moisture out of it.  After the mushrooms are cooked on one side, mix them up, salt and pepper and add them to any dish of your desire! You can even keep them in the frig so that they are ready and waiting for you at all times.

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I now include mushrooms into every recipe that I can, which is such a complete turn around of where I used to be.  I especially like creminis (baby bellas) which are my favorite because they are so meaty and flavorful with everything.  The days of only having mushrooms on a pizza are over.  I incorporate shrooms into rice pilafs, chicken dishes, omelettes, salads and pastas.  I cook them down with low sodium chicken broth and white wine which are two of my top choices for adding healthy flavor to foods that I talked about here. I also mix them with caramelized onions which work perfectly together in almost everything that I make.

If you don’t already love mushrooms, I hope that I inspired you to give them another chance.  And if you already love them, I hope that I helped you realize the best way most flavorful way to cook them.  Bon Appetite!

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